Why I Prefer to Fly Southwest
My husband and I prefer to fly Southwest. In fact we fly Southwest almost exclusively. My cousin is a Delta devotee and recently we got into a discussion about why I prefer to fly Southwest. For those of you who either have not flown the airline or don’t understand its almost cult following, I hope this post helps.
Why I Prefer to Fly Southwest – Price!
No one is going to tell you that air travel is cheap but I do find that Southwest is consistently the lowest price among the major carriers. I also love that there are VERY few additional costs on Southwest. You get two FREE checked bags along with your carry on. Some airlines have you pay extra for preferred seating. On Southwest you can pay $15 for early bird checkin. They will check you in 36 hours before your flight almost guaranteeing you an A boarding pass or a least an early B. That $15 is a lot less than the fees on other airlines. I checked the price of a trip from Tampa to Chicago Midway. The breakdown is below
|Wanna Get Away/Economy||Main||Anytime/Comfort||Business Select/First Class|
All categories of Southwest Flights include: 2 free bags, no change fees, reusable funds, early bird access (included in Business Select ticket). Business Select and Anytime fares are 100% refundable.
I had to really search for comparisons of Delta fares. The Comparison chart had been removed from their website. After a lot of clicking I found only First Class comes with 2 free bags. Other fare categories pay $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second. Economy does not provide for seat selection. First and Comfort fares allow for priority boarding.
In summary, while Anytime and Comfort fares may be close to the same price after baggage fees, there are substantially more restrictions on changes for Delta and the ticket is NOT refundable. On both the lower and higher priced fares Southwest is a much better buy. Just one of the reasons why, I prefer to fly Southwest.
Why I Prefer to Fly Southwest – Boarding
I know to passengers that fly other airlines, Southwest’s boarding system and open seating causes LOTS of concern. I LOVE IT!!!! My husband and I recently flew to Hawaii on another airline (Southwest will be flying to Hawaii by the end of the year and we are thrilled!) and it just confirmed my preference. Southwest boards in three groups: A, B, and C. Each group has 60 passengers who each have a unique number. You board in numerical order. A1 is first, followed by A2 and so forth. I like order and this makes me very happy. On our flight to Hawaii, we were in group 1 for boarding along with about 30 other people. It was NOT orderly. People pushed past us or cut in from beside us and these folks had an assigned seat to go to. There is no pushing on Southwest. Everyone knows their number. It creates a friendlier atmosphere right from the start. How do you get the desirable A boarding pass? If you are a loyal Southwest passenger, you can achieve A list status with 35 flights. If you don’t travel that much, spend the $15 to get early bird checkin. It saves you having to remember to check in 24 hours in advance and moves you up in priority. (Without early bird check in YOU WANT TO BE ON YOUR PHONE OR AT YOUR COMPUTER AT EXACTLY 24 HOURS BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT!!! Checking in later will definitely put you in that back part of B or C group. You will be among the last to board and may have trouble finding overhead bin space or end up in a middle seat.) I am a rule follower and like order so Southwest’s boarding process is another reason why I prefer to fly Southwest.
Why I Prefer to Fly Southwest – Seats
This is one of the biggest differences between Southwest and other airlines, the open seating policy. Once you board the plane, ANY open seat is yours. I understand how not knowing which seat you are going to get may seem scary at first, but think about it. You don’t know who will be sitting around you, unless you are traveling with a group and all booked your tickets together. All you know for certain is that seat’s location. I like being able to scout out the available seats before I choose. Some of my criteria are: is the person sitting next to me coughing or sneezing, is there overhead bin space available above my seat, how long is my lay over (if it is short or I am headed to my final destination I want to be near the front) and lastly how much stuff does my seat mate have (I understand some people like to bring pillows and blankets when they fly but they quite often are going to spread out a little more than makes me comfortable.) Oh and lately I check for dogs or other pets. I love pets as much as the next guy but, I don’t want to sit next to yours on a flight.
Why I Prefer to Fly Southwest – Change Fees
We haven’t been frequent travelers all that long, really only the last 10 or 15 years. (I guess that kind of gives away my age.) Before we were the world travelers that we are today (good to have goals), we had taken a trip to South Carolina to visit my in laws. Due to a family emergency, I needed to spend some extra time before heading home. I called Southwest ready to explain my extreme circumstances and beg their leniency. The woman who answered the phone was so sympathetic and I could almost hear her smile when she said, “Honey don’t you worry. You change this flight as many times as you need to. We don’t have change fees because your life should always be your top priority.” Her attitude and Southwest’s no change policy relieved a tremendous amount of stress at a difficult time. We have had less optimal experiences on other airlines. On two occasions health issues required us to change a trip. One change was completed two months in advance of the trip and the other was two weeks before. I mention this to make it clear that these were NOT last minute changes. On both occasions we were charged $200 per ticket, basically 50% of the cost. No change fees is another reason, I prefer to fly Southwest. I do want to be clear. Southwest does charge you if there is a difference in the new and your original fare. That is a fare difference, not a change fee. All the money you paid for your first ticket is applied to your new ticket.
Why I prefer to Fly Southwest – Rewards
If the name of this website didn’t give it away, we roam with our rewards. We absolutely love it when traveling allows us to travel more! The simplicity of Southwest’s rewards system is yet another reason why I prefer to fly Southwest. Southwest has NO BLACKOUT DATES. Your reward points can be used on any flight for any level of fare as long as there is a seat available. The earning of rewards and the use of rewards is clearly visible on the webpage. You don’t have to search the website for the facts. Like I found when comparing the fare classes, you really have to search the website for the information. Even The Points Guy, a real rewards guru, says that Delta’s program is less than straightforward. Check out his post on the subject at ThePointsGuy Southwest has a word for this and it is “Transfarency.” I couldn’t agree more that with Southwest, the information is presented in a clear, concise manner. A big reason why I prefer to fly Southwest.
Those are my top 5 reasons why I prefer to fly Southwest. Given that I was very pleased to hear Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO say that the airline has no intention of changing these items when asked about them on the airlines earnings conference call.USAtoday.com
I hope that you will give Southwest a try. They are by far my preferred airline. For more on Southwest check out my post SoaringandSavingwithSouthwest